Sleep, Glorious Sleep….

Sleep…it sometimes feels like we never get enough of it.  There always seems to be something that needs to get done that keeps us up just a little bit later than we intended, or a show on television that we just have to watch that keeps us up past midnight.  When the alarm clock goes off at 6:30 a.m., we drag ourselves out of bed and into the kitchen for that jolt of caffeine that we are sure will give us the energy we need to make it through the morning.

Lack of sleep takes its toll on our bodies in more ways than we imagine.   Studies have shown that lack of sleep contributes to cancer, heart disease, obesity, and a weakened immune system.  Not to mention the fact that it makes us less alert during the day, and contributes to a higher level of grumpiness.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, Adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.  Does that seem unrealistic to you?  Stop and think about how you feel when you get a full, good night’s sleep.  You awaken with more energy, in a better mood, and feel you can conquer the world, or at least that huge pile of work on your desk or those heaps of laundry gathering in the laundry room.

Why can’t you get a full night’s sleep?  Stimulation in the latter part of the evening can make it harder to fall asleep.   Avoid watching television or using your computer an hour before your planned bedtime.  Yes, watching the Late Night show while in bed can make it so it takes longer to fall asleep once you shut the tv off.  And while regular exercise does contribute to better sleeping patterns, it is best left for the earlier parts of your day…in other words, don’t exercise within 3 hours of going to sleep.  This also includes avoiding things like household tasks such as vacuuming and spending 1/2 an hour picking up dirty clothes and toys off the floor.

So what can you do to ensure abetter night’s sleep?  Perhaps grandma was right when she suggested drinking a glass of warm milk before bed…Ayurvedic texts suggest that this ritual promotes a sense of well-being in your body, helping you to relax and fall asleep easier.  Other activities that can help relax you, such as taking a hot bath, reading a chapter of a good book, deep breathing exercises, or dimming the lights and having some lovin’ time with your mate are all great ways to help encourage sleep. 

You can also try using some essential oils to help relax your body and mind to insure sleep.  Just one drop of lavender or jasmine on a tissue, or the corner of your pillow case can contribute to a deeper, more relaxing sleep.  Just don’t overdo it with these oils, as too much of the scent can be stimulating.  Less is more when it comes to using essential oils as sleep aids. 

Do something good for your health, and get a good night’s sleep every night!